Give Church a Chance to Help You, Dakay Tells Priest's Complainants

November 18, 2007

"COME and see us," Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese, advised the teenage girls who complained they were harassed by a priest last year.

Dakay said they want to talk to all the girls who accused Fr. Benedicto Ejares of acts of lasciviousness, child abuse and sexual harassment so the archdiocese can help them.

Originally, seven high school students of the Abellana National School complained that Ejares touched them inappropriately when he heard their confessions during a Life in the Spirit seminar in school last Nov. 14.

Dakay refused to comment further on the recent report Dr. Frederick Boholst submitted to the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor, in which he said that five of the high school students suffered from "considerable psychological distress."

The prosecutor's office earlier recommended the dismissal of the charges as it found no intent on the part of the priest to do harm on the girls.

But the report from Boholst, a psychologist, said the impact on two of the girls is "similar to that suffered by victims of poisoning or those who have witnessed classmates die."

"One of the girls was diagnosed to have post-traumatic stress disorder and counseling was highly recommended," it said.

The archdiocese has said it is ready to assist the girls and their families.

"We want to help them, but they never come to us. (So) how can we help them?" Dakay told Sun. Star Cebu in a phone interview yesterday.

He said that he doesn't know why these girls and their families have stayed away. "I have called these girls before but we never heard from them," Dakay said.


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